Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reformed Whalers


He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.

Yesterday, someone sent me this link:

Why Harold Camping and not John MacArthur?

The gist of the post is summed up in the opening paragraph:

Have you noticed?

Everyone has jumped all over Harold Camping for being wrong in his predictions and eschatology.

Yet, John MacArthur has been shown wrong in his predictions (concerning Israel and their salvation by sight) and eschatology here and here and here and here and elsewhere, and in his teachings promising salvation to unbelievers after the second advent of Jesus Christ – clearly a heresy – and everyone says ‘hushhhhh.’

What’s the difference between Camping and MacArthur?

What’s the difference between Camping and MacArthur? Really? Camping and MacArthur have both made false predictions about the end of the world? Is the guy serious? And get this: he’s claims to be a pastor, too.

Let’s see: A number of the free, on-line dictionaries define the word “prediction” as, “foretelling how things will happen in the future.” Harold Camping, as we all know, first “predicted” the world could possibly end in 1994, though he left his calculations a bit ambiguous and opened to fudging by placing a question mark after 1994. But, 1994 came and went, so Harold Camping recalculated and foretold how the world will certainly end May 21st, 2011. He was so confident in his prediction he even stated on his website, “The Bible Guarantees It!,” this time with an exclamation mark rather than a question mark. We all know how that last prediction turned out, though Camping has since filed an extension with God for October 21st of this year.

Now, according to pastor-teacher Joel, John MacArthur has been shown wrong in his predictions and eschatology.

Go back and read that statement again.

How else am I to understand what pastor-teacher Joel is saying here EXCEPT that he believes John MacArthur has made the same types of predictions as Harold Camping. Am I missing something here? Anyone?

I happen to know something about what John teaches seeing that I work for the guy and attend his church. I have never heard John MacArthur make any prediction, anywhere close to what Harold Camping did, and then bet his entire ministry and career against it happening the way he says it will.

So. I leave a comment under pastor-teacher Joel’s post. I ask him to provide the specific examples of where John has made failed predictions like Harold Camping and everyone is saying “hushhhh” because he’s John MacArthur. Pastor-teacher Joel replies with a chiding comment saying I didn’t read his post carefully. He never said John, “made any predictions concerning Jesus coming or dates a’ la Harold Camping” and then adds, “What were you thinking?” He even posted a cryptic twitter message yesterday about people who don’t read comments carefully.

Wow. What was I thinking? Well, if you open up your post by saying Harold Camping was wrong about his predictions and eschatology and then in the next line say that John MacArthur has been shown wrong in his predictions in the same manner, how else am I to understand those words? Do I need to employ some sort of Reformed voodoo hermeneutic to get the true and deeper meaning out of the comment?

But, Joel attempts to weasel out of his libel by saying John was wrong about his predictions concerning Israel and the their salvation by sight. Ah yes, that makes all the sense in the world. Why didn’t I see that before. And to help me out more, he provides me examples of John’s wrong predictions by linking me to his VERY OWN BLOG POSTS on the subject. Isn’t that convenient.

Of course, none of those posts he links provides me with any of the specific examples I requested. They are all his personal rants against John’s Dispensational eschatology compared and contrasted against pastor-teacher Joel’s Covenant Theology.

He seems to be upset that John believes the nation of Israel will look upon their returning Messiah and be saved when He appears. In this post, after pastor-teacher Joel outlines his take on Zechariah 12:10 and its fulfillment in Acts 2, he asserts how John teaches another, false gospel, is a lying deceiver misleading the Church, and clearly is a heretic. Amazing. A lying, deceiving, heretic? I tend to reserve those kind of words for folks like Charles Russell, Clark Pinnock, and Benny Hinn.

I am curious. If the notion that Israel will be redeemed upon seeing their returning Messiah is a heresy as pastor-teacher Joel claims, what does he make of other Reformed men who also taught the same thing, like John Murray, Charles Hodge, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, and even John Calvin. More are listed HERE. What about Martyn-Lloyd Jones when he said to Carl Henry in a 1980, Christianity Today interview that,

“To me 1967, the year that the Jews occupied all of Jerusalem, was very crucial. Luke 21:43 is one of the most significant prophetic verses: ‘Jerusalem,’ it reads, ‘shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled.’ It seems to me that that took place in 1967—something crucially important that had not occurred in 2,000 years. Luke 21:43 is one fixed point. But I am equally impressed by Romans 11 which speaks of a great spiritual return among the Jews before the end time. While this seems to be developing, even something even more spectacular may be indicated. We sometimes tend to foreshorten events, yet I have a feeling that we are in the period of the end.” [Carl Henry, “ Martyn Lloyd-Jones: From Buckingham to Westminster,” Christianity Today, February 8, 1980].

I take it pastor-teacher Joel believes all these men were “teaching a false gospel, and leading the church into error?”

Honestly, pastor-teacher Joel needs to repent. Harold Camping and John MacArthur have nothing in common. How truly troubling it is that a person, not to mention a pastor, would so make Dispensationalism his “white whale” that he would full on bear false witness.

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Blogger Lynda O said...

Exactly... thanks for that PDF link with the many other names. I was aware of several including Horatius Bonar, John Gill, Jonathan Edwards, and Cotton Mather, but that list includes many other great saints.

But I guess Joel is like a person I know--who thinks that anyone who believes this (future restoration of Israel) is in a cult that worships Israel instead of God, and refuses to hear the truth.

10:42 AM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Pastor Steve Lamm said...


Joel seems to be exercised about the idea that if elect Jews see Christ at His second advent and then are allowed to savingly believe at that point, that this constitutes a "second-chance" gospel and is therefore a false Gospel. In effect it adds sight to faith and denies the doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

Is that how you take his meaning?

One wonders how he would deal with the fact that most of those who savingly believed on Christ at His first advent not only saw Him face-to-face, but also witnessed His miracles. They were still saved by faith in Christ.

There is a growing stridency among many covenantalists who want to separate themselves from dispensationalists. The labeling of dispensationalists as heretical or "heterodox" in their theology will probably grow with time.

Look, I think infant baptism is unbiblical and damaging to the church, but I never thought of labeling my evangelical/covenantal brethren as heretics for their contrary views on the subject. This kind of language is both stunning and slanderous. Such talk discourages me greatly.

Perhaps MacArthur would be able to do a couple of posts dealing with the core issue of unity on the essentials among covenantalists and dispensationalists.


10:47 AM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

That is exactly how I understood what he meant. I could have mentioned that in the post, but it was his insistence that John was teaching some weird, non-Reformed view of Israel's salvation at Christ's second coming that go me worked up. That is a standard position of many Reformed commentators as I noted in my post. Makes me wonder what he thinks of those individuals.

Of course, I left a comment asking him that question (I left a few actually), but he conveniently ignored it, along with the others, and deletes them all down the memory hole, so we may never get an answer.

10:53 AM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

I want to shout this, but will refrain:

Why isn't anyone observing that the REAL story here is Camping, an amill spiritualizer from 'way back, untethered from the grammatical-historical bearings that are the dispensationalist's bread and butter, follows his own make-it-up hermeneutics into insanity?

Is that why unhinged folks like Joel are being unhinged? Because they know Camping is THEIR guy, so since the best defense is a good offense, they just point fingers loudly because we're too nice to?

11:29 AM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I find it amusing that pastor-teacher Joel tweeted that I am being dishonest and twisting the truth. Says he never called John MacArthur a heretic. And that in spite of his identifying John with Harold Camping, linking to a series of articles saying John teaches deception and lies, and saying John teaches a doctrine that is "clearly a heresy."

What else I am to conclude about John?

12:49 PM, May 25, 2011  
OpenID runlevelfivepointer said...

Scripture says that the entire earth will mourn at Christ's Second Coming. This pretty much precludes this Israel-gets-a-second-chance-at-the-Second-Coming nonsense.

Macarthur is generally solid, but I take him to task if he truly holds this position. It relies too much on Scofield's ersatz hermeneutical method that the Early Church and the Apostles themselves show no evidence of being familiar with.

2:07 PM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

So basically you nullify the entire prophecy of Zech. 12 by spiritualizing it?

What is your take on the article I posted listing the countless number of Reformed CT individuals who believe the same as John regarding Israel? Unless my history is faulty, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Hodge, J.C. Ryle, and Spurgeon lived before that dreaded Scofieldian hermeneutic went to print.

3:06 PM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Steve Lamm said...


I read all of the links Joel provided to "prove" his point and there is no doubt that he clearly identifies John's teaching as herectical regarding the Gospel. He also repeatedly classifies dispensational eschatology as heretical.

Of course, he's trying to wiggle out of that by saying "I never called John a heretic." It's a distinction without a difference and he knows it.

By the way, do you know if any prominent covenantalists agree with this guy? Would they also label MacArthur (or any other dispys) as heretics regarding the Gospel? If so, then GTY blog ought to address it.


3:19 PM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

He seems to be something of a lone ranger at this point. Certainly there are people in his camp who imply dispensationalism is heresy. Sam Waldron comes to mind, but they attempt to do as you say, wiggle out from being associated with the accusation. The GTY blog will eventually address this subject in the future, but there isn't any immediate plans for a while. I know there is a collaborative book coming out this fall on eschatology put out by the TMS facility.

3:41 PM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger Steve Lamm said...


I thought the same thing, but I'm not familiar with all of Camping's theology, so I wasn't sure if he was amil. It's obvious he's in the "decoder ring" camp when it comes to hermeneutics.


That's a book I will definitely read.

Perhaps men like Joel should be ignored. I hope most reasonable Christians would be suspicious of a guy who attaches the label "heretic" to a man like MacArthur.


4:09 PM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

11:17 PM, May 25, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

If Fred doesn't mind my saying, there's a link at my blog today that will remove all doubt in re. Camping's hermeneutics, at least as of a few decades ago. I think you can draw a line from where he was to where he is, with few or no angles.

6:31 AM, May 26, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I don't mind at all and you should have trolled yourself.

Link is here

6:43 AM, May 26, 2011  
Blogger Sir Aaron said...

I doubt Joel is the only pastor-teacher who accuses MacArthur of all kinds of things. I don't always agree with MacArthur's views on certain subjects. I'm sure if you asked MacArthur, he'd tell you that he has had times when he's gotten it wrong. But to say he's a heretic or mention him in the same breathe as Camping? Get a grip.

I don't believe in Preterism. But I don't refer to Gary DeMar as a heretic.

9:55 AM, May 26, 2011  
Blogger Truth Unites... and Divides said...

It's utterly ridiculous to link Camping with John MacArthur. This kind of guilt-by-association from pastor Joel is just a lame-brained attack on the character and ministry of John MacArthur.

The guy should be ashamed of himself.

10:55 PM, May 26, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:46 PM, May 31, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I don't believe there are 4 or 5 distinct races of Jews. That is the sort of anti-Semitic talk from radical replacement theologians who claim all Jews died out in 70 AD and the "Jews" currently occupying Israel are of Turkish descent.

Ironically, Mormon researchers, attempting to identify the American Indians as "Jews" did extensive DNA analysis only to discover there is one identifiable Semitic group of people we call "Jews." It may be they are spread out through various national populations, but that is something prophesied by God would happen. Still, Jews have maintained their ethnic identity and heritage for several millenia now and this cannot be denied.

But, the promises of God's restoration of Israel is not dependent upon us being able to "identify" a particular ethnic group who will be in the current land of Israel. Israel is currently in apostasy, as God said through Paul in Romans 11. So even if the current Jewish state is driven into the sea as the PLO and other Muslim thug groups wish to do, God's plans and purposes will still be established in His ways.

5:33 AM, June 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, Fred.

Doubtless, God knows his own.

These are questions posed, and it's good we can respond knowledgeably. By the way, you mention the Turkic view; I once had a Jewish professor of history who told me one day about it and that it was developed by a Jewish researcher. My professor said he was doing his own personal genealogical work, he ascribed to the view and subscribed to an academic email list-serve on the topic.

I was a bit surprised.

Of course the restoration is irrefutable anyway:

A real millennium is Scripturally proven. Believers return to the earth and Jewish believers are certainly there, restored to the land.

10:34 AM, June 01, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

If the guy your professor was telling you about is who I am thinking of, it is Benjamin Freedman an Jewish intellectual who converted to Roman Catholicism and wrote extensively on anti-Semitic ideas. Sadly, a few theonomists I have read cite him as a credible researcher.

12:28 PM, June 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

No. That's not him. This professor does not write on the subject to my knowledge. His fields in history are Russia and socialism. He is a practicing Jew and very much worried about anti-Semitism. Although his doctorate is from Harvard, he teaches at a lesser-ranked university.

He said there were thousands of Jews on the email list-serve. I was surprised to hear from him that the idea was taken seriously at all, much less so widely. He was concerned that I not take the idea the wrong way. He added that Turkic origins applied to 65%, tops, but you can see why I would be concerned how that might affect prophecy. He knew I felt that way, but said Jews lost interest n Christian prophecy when influential men such as Falwell insisted the antichrist was to be a Jew.

Anyway, I brought this up because so few of us ever talk to Jews and because their views on things can be much different and more complex than we might suspect. I grew up with some, so I find it easy to talk to them.

Whatever the validity of the view, the issue is not restricted to the amillennialist world.

Besides, some limited, gentle controversy could add readership to the blog.

1:03 PM, June 01, 2011  
Blogger Peter said...

Oh, I'm sorry, I see your question was about the researcher. It was not Freedman but Arthur Koestler -- and also maybe one or two others.

1:09 PM, June 01, 2011  
Blogger Highland Host said...

We all have nuts who say they belong to our party. Fred Phelps says he's a Calvinist. Guilt by association gets all of us.

But if Dan Phillips thinks that Camping's a consistent amillennialist, then I despair, I really do. That's like saying that R.C. Stam is a consistent Dispensationalist! Now, I need to recover from my apoplectic fit.

9:53 AM, June 02, 2011  
Blogger Elaine Bittencourt said...

I suggest that Mr. Joel was looking for his 15-min of fame. What a good strategy to attack a very known and respect person to achieve that! Where's that internet ignore button?! ah, there isn't one yet.

6:54 PM, June 16, 2011  

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